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Friday, February 14, 2014

Market Research: The basics

Using market research in a strategic way optimizes results
SWOT analysis is a good basis for market research
By Amber Potts

In order to have a successful business, you need to know how your brand, products or services are perceived by your customers. In these instances, it’s a good idea to do some market research.

Most companies have absolutely no idea how to perform a successful market research study. If you would like to do some market research, use the following basic tips for guidance.

1. Know your audience

Before you can create a market research study, you must know your audience. This requires you to know the demographic of the individuals buying your products or services. Once you know these demographics, you need to do your best to find a big enough group of people willing to participate in your market research study.

2. Know the purpose of your market research study

Market research studies are meant to help you learn more about something specific, so you must know the purpose of your study. For example, do you want to learn more about your customer’s perceptions about a certain product or a certain service? Once you know the purpose, you need to draft questions that will help you get the answers you want. For example, if you want to know how your customers feel about a certain product, ask them how they feel about everything from the quality to the packaging to the price. Through this study you may find that your customers think it’s a great product but that it costs too much compared to similar products.

3. Hold a focus group

One great market research tactic is a focus group. With this study, you typically have between five and 15 people in one room discussing your product or service. It’s important that you have a mediator in this focus group to help guide the discussion with certain questions. You should also have the moderator take notes, but you should also consider recording the audio or using a video recorder for more detail.

4. Hold surveys

Surveys are another great way to gain insight about your company, products or services. You can either opt to send a survey out by mail or email, or you can conduct phone surveys with customers that recently made a purchase. Again, you want to make sure that you have a specific set of questions to ask that will help you gain the information you want.

5. Provide an incentive

Most of your customers have busy lives, and it will be hard for them to find the time to help you in your market research. This is why it’s a good idea to offer some type of incentive to your participants. This incentive could be anything from a coupon to a free item to money. Decide which incentive mechanism is the right option for you, but be sure to remind your participants that they’ll still be rewarded for their honest opinions, even if they’re not what you want to hear.

6. Have your results transcribed

If you opt to use focus groups or phone interviews, record these sessions and get professional transcriptions of the audio files. This way, you will not have to weed through a plethora of audio to find the answers you want, and you won’t have to spend hours trying to transcribe the audio yourself. There are plenty of professional transcription companies out there that will provide a full transcription of your audio files within a few days. You will then not only have a hard copy of the audio, but you’ll also be able to find your desired information more easily.

About the author: Amber Potts is a freelance writer and a perpetual student of higher education. Amber shares her knowledge and training through a variety of mediums including article writing.

Image license: Xhienne, CC BY-SA 2.5